Roadmap and Intel FSP


#1

Aye, I wanted to discuss the Roadmap a little bit:

Specifically:

Firmware Support Package (FSP) Freed

My understanding is that Purism still uses Intel FSP, yes?

https://puri.sm/posts/intel-fsp-reverse-engineering-finding-the-real-entry-point/

Is it possible for maybe @mladen to confirm this?

I generally, trust that Purism is honest and what not, but this seems like pretty wild?

I could understand how the “ME” being consdered “neutralized” could be mis-represented as “freed” but how is FSP?

Edit:
Archive of Post: https://archive.st/be0l


#2

I think you read this wrong. While the diagram is outdated, it only says that “FSP freed” is one of the prerequisites of moving from coreboot to libreboot.


#3

@Caliga is correct, this is the roadmap plan of our work. No one has freed the FSP yet, which is sadly still needed to build a BIOS. We use the HAP bit to (verified) disable the ME and we have worked pretty hard on identifying parts of the ME firmware to remove (so even if it would be enabled again it would be pretty dysfunctional). But still we have to use some binary blobs, I’m afraid. But we are continuing work on all of these fronts.

Cheers
nicole


#4

@nicole.faerber, It would be helpful if Freedom Roadmap page on the web site was updated to show the difference between the Librem 13/15 and the Librem 5, because Purism is at different places on the Roadmap for the different products.


#5

@nicole.faerber Another, rumor I’ve heard is that Purism would be sued and probably die if they tried to reverse engineer stuff like Intel FSP. My understanding is that this can be considered “computer tampering” an illegal offense. Is this true?


#6

Also, have ya’ll considered joining the RISC-V Foundation.

It wouldn’t just be an awesome PR move, but ya’ll could help steer them towards free software.
https://riscv.org/membership-application/

@nicole.faerber @mladen


#7

Intel probably has patents covering the code in the FSP, so that it could destroy Purism if it wanted to. A patent dispute in court costs about half a million dollars in legal fees.

For reverse engineering, you have one team that studies the product and writes a detailed description of what it does. Then another team which never looks at the original product, then takes that description and re-engineer it. If the FSP contains some kind of encryption or code obfuscation to hide its contents, Intel could also file a complaint with the US government that the first team is violating section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that says it is “unlawful to circumvent technological measures used to prevent unauthorized access to copyrighted works.” I have no idea how a court would view that, but making a successful argument in court would probably be expensive.

However, Intel won’t do any of these things, because attacking one of its customers who is buying its chips is simply bad business. Intel doesn’t care about Purism’s tiny number of orders, but it does care a lot about its Linux server business, which is why Intel is the largest contributor to the Linux kernel. If Intel attacked Purism, many of the companies that build Linux servers would switch to AMD and Intel would lose billions in revenue. All the work that Intel has done for the last 2 decades to establish itself as a Linux-friendly company would be flushed down the drain, if it attacked Purism, and it won’t want to hand that business to AMD.

Intel might have licensed some of the tech in the FSP, so it legally can’t share it, or it might not want its competitors to know how its CPU operates, but I can’t see Intel attacking Purism, when Intel is trying to keep the Linux server companies from switching to AMD and ARM CPUs, and trying to convince laptop makers to not switch to Snapdragon.


#8

What Purism wants to influence is the direction of SiFive, because it is reportedly 2 years away from producing a mobile SoC for smartphones with a RISC-V CPU. Faerber recently hinted that Purism is close to announcing something, and from the context of the post, it is probably an agreement with SiFive, regarding the open hardware CPU and GPU that SiFive is developing.


#9

So, for the time being becoming a RISC-V foundation member IMHO does not make much sense for Purism. We are growing but yet too small to start any CPU development on our own and to my understanding this would be the point when becoming a foundation member would make sense. I sincerely hope to be able to this in the not too distant future.

Concerning SiFIve and the GPU development it is still to be seen if this will be an open GPU design or only an incorporation of a proprietary GPU core. SiFive is a company, they work on the open and free RISC-V ISA and foster free development around the core, but there is no statement or rule that prevents them from adding proprietary building blocks to new silicon designs. So all I’m saying here is, just because it is RISC-V based and/or coming from SiFive does not necessarily mean that it will be open and free. The announcement they had:


suggests to me that they will rather include the closed PowerVR GPU into a RISC-V design. Which is perfectly legal and valid, don’t get me wrong! But it is not what Purism would want.

November last year I briefly visited the RISC-V summit in Santa Clara (CA). The impression I got there is that a business eco system is now developing around the free RISC-V core design. But this eco system is to the most part again proprietary.

We have to see how RISC-V develops. Making chips is a very expensive enterprise, even if you have a free design to base on. Much more (about a magnitude or more) expensive than making consumer electronics. So I can very well understand that it needs a healthy business eco system around this technology to sustain the development. I sincerely hope though that silicon IP holders more and more recognize the huge benefits of open IP and release their stuff. Like in the software industry it needs redefining their current business models - you can have a successful business based on free software, why not based on free hardware (chip) designs?

Cheers
nicole


#10

Whatever you’re up to regarding RISC-V and GPU, it would be dope if would use posits.
Probably wishful thinking, but it seems like posits instead of floats could compensate some of the shortcomings a new/non-mainstream design has.
New Approach Could Sink Floating Point Computation


#11

It’s a bummer to hear that SiFive didn’t partner with Vivante for its GPUs.

OK, all we need to do is convince 5 million people to buy Librem devices, so Purism has the revenue to finance free hardware projects.

All we need to do is transform Todd Weaver into a supermodel and make him stutter like Elon Musk, so he can generate a ton of publicity. Or maybe we need to convince every Hollywood celebrity to carry around a Librem 5 to turn the Linux brick into a fashion statement. :wink:


#12

@amosbatto the good news is that Purism isn’t labeled as an outcast yet.

You see this happen to many times, where a perfectly good products gets labeled for the wrong purpose. Or, get criticized under the wrong banner.

We don’t want to be labeled as “tin hat” folks. It murders any project.
Luckily, somehow Purism seems to have an amazing PR team.

I mean, they gained quick appearances on Digital Trends, reviewed by MakeUseOf, sponsor and now employer of Bryan Lunduke, Twit Channel, excellent ratings by TechRadar, Bootstrapping in America. TFiR, Monero Talk, World Crypto Network, Time News Tech, e.c.t.

Not sure how often Purism views these, but what I think would be awesome is if Purism could join free software boards like RISC-V, Linux Foundation, w3c, e.c.t.
It could be expensive, but for many of these they have lower plans at only a couple K.
Free software is not yet fully heard at these organizations.